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Copyright 2005 The Jerusalem Post
June 11

HEADLINE: The Katzes live in hope


Pirchiya Heiman will never stop looking for her baby brother, 45-year-old Yehuda Katz, one of three soldiers who disappeared after the 1982 battle of Sultan Yakoub in Lebanon.

Next week she says she and her family intend to petition the courts to pressure the government to establish a $10 million reward for information leading to her brother. Last year the "Born to Freedom" campaign for missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad was kicked off, replete with television commercials and an Internet site offering $10m. reward for information leading to Arad. The government has agreed to pay at least half the reward.

"When the system discriminates and gives one missing soldier a prize and not the other, that is unconscionable," says Heiman. And while Arad was promoted in absentia during his captivity to lieutenant-colonel, Katz remains a staff sergeant.

But Heiman insists that "our energies are not wasted on anger. All we care about is finding Yehuda. True there are many stupid and insensitive people in the system, not all of them, but enough to grind it to a halt."

Like members of the other families, the search for Yehuda is an almost full-time vocation for Heiman.

"My head is constantly working out what we can do, what new stones can be turned over. I recently went through all the [intelligence] material. And there are several points that have not yet been examined," she says. Cryptically, Heiman says there are several "players" involved with the Sultan YaKoub boys that could be pursued.

While the IDF's casualties department continues to tell the families that all is lost, "they still have not been able to provide us proof that the boys are no longer alive," she says. So Yehuda's parents, both Holocaust survivors over 80, remain in limbo and Heiman fears they might not live to see their son's return.

But Katz's sister has a different take on the IDF's inability to provide proof of her brother's fate: "For us it's good that his situation remains unknown. It gives us hope."

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